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May 5, 2011

Getting Priorities Straight

Amanda Haddaway

I’m always amazed at what the mainstream media deems relevant, newsworthy and important. With so many things going on around the world each day, producers and editors have very difficult jobs in determining what makes the cut.


It’s also interesting to see what regular citizens in our own networks think is newsworthy through personal conversations and their interaction on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.


Last week, more than 300 people were killed in six different states due to destructive storms and tornadoes. Several hundred more, if not thousands, were injured. That’s pretty significant damage for a weather-caused disaster.


In fact, President Barack Obama visited Alabama last Friday and commented that he had never seen devastation like this. Senator Richard Shelby (R., AL) echoed the president’s remarks.


Thousands of homes and businesses remain without power and National Guard troops have been activated to help in a variety of areas. It will take significant time and money to rebuild the lost and damaged homes and buildings that were in the paths of the storms.


There was news coverage on the day of the storms and there have been a few supplemental articles and news stories since the damage first occurred, but the level of coverage is nowhere near the amount that the royal wedding received.


I noticed that the majority of posts on Facebook and Twitter about the storms were from people living in the southeast, the area most affected.


Also on Friday, Prince William wed Catherine “Kate” Middleton. Many U.S. networks began coverage at 4 A.M. to accommodate the time difference between New York and London. Many networks pre-empted several hours worth of normal coverage to show any footage that they were able to capture, along with commentary on the guests and their outlandish outfits.


The American public is enthralled with this modern-day fairytale. They are so spellbound, in fact, that mentions of the royal wedding surpassed those for the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and the uprising in Egypt, according to a USA Today article.


Friday morning, I checked my own Facebook and Twitter pages. Almost every comment had a royal wedding theme. Some parents opted to keep their children home from school to “experience” the royal event, much like was done when Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s were wed many years ago. Others planned to enjoy tea and scones and pay homage to their own English ancestors.


I also opened my iGoogle page, which aggregates headlines from various news sources, and almost every headline mentioned the wedding. Either it was a really slow news day or we’ve become a tad obsessed. The royal wedding is hard-hitting news? Probably not.


And while I’m happy about the young couple’s nuptials, I also wonder if we have our priorities out of line. I’m all for ogling the royals especially since a number of my ancestors hail from Great Britain, but there are some very serious things going on at home and abroad that nary got a mention.


Buried way under the top headlines, there was a story about 13 U.S.-led foreign troops in various parts of Afghanistan who were killed since last Wednesday. The story also stated that eight American soldiers were killed after an Afghan Army pilot opened fire on them at a Kabul airbase last week.


My guess is that not many people were aware of this story. It got lost with all the excitement over Will and Kate.


My intention is not to criticize or condemn those who celebrated the royal wedding and rejoiced in its enchantment, but to simply mention that some things are more important.


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